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Experts question reduction of cop training from 24 to 8 months

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Security experts, police unions and some inside the SA Police Service are questioning a decision to drastically cut the police training period from 24 months to eight.

The move, which police sources have said acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Kgomotso Phahlane will announce at a media briefing today, has surprised many in the security industry, who say police need more training, not less.

Police management declined to comment.

Raising the concerns of unions, criminologists and sources with knowledge of the new training programme is the effect such a cut will have on the type of police being produced and how loss of experienced officers will be stemmed.

The new training programme, say sources, is designed to, among other things, stem manpower shortages.

In the 2014-2015 financial year the Institute for Security Studies reported that about 7000 members left the police compared with 2500 in 2012. The ISS in 2014 said 1100 detectives left the SAPS.

Police have embarked on programmes to lure officers back and to retain experienced members by raising salaries. But, says the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, the new training programme will undo what has been done to professionalise the SAPS.

The two-year training programme consisted of three phases. Phase one involved theoretical training in, among other subjects, criminal law and the Criminal Procedures Act.

Popcru spokesman Richard Mamabolo said phase two involved tactical policing training, including theory and firearm and survival training.

“Phase three consisted of orientation, during which recruits were sent to police stations.” He said it was this training [phase three] that was being dropped.

“Any dropping of the training programme is bad. During the two-year training programme we received reports of recruits battling with the theoretical training. Recruits themselves said they were just passing.

“It’s clear the two-year training programme needs to be extended not cut. You cannot compromise quality for quantity,” he said.

SA Police Union deputy vice- president Thabo Matose said police were in breach of a Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council agreement over the training period of police dating back to 2003.

“Before 2003 the training was six months. After the redesign this was extended to two years.

“This gave recruits a proper understanding of the dynamics of policing and gave recruits a chance to put what they had learnt in theory into practice.”

He said they feared for the safety of police recruits.

“Police management have been silent on the new programme. We have no idea what has been cut out and left in. With the rate of officers killed we need to properly train officers for their own safety.”

Criminologist Johan Burger said that the concern was that by shortening the training period this could jeopardise the amount of theoretical tuition recruits receive.

“This is learning about the Criminal Procedures Act and issues that will guide them as police officers.”

Burger said while he felt that the 12-month field study period was too long, with an impression created that the police found it difficult to keep them busy, there was a time when police received six- month training, and that the most important part of a recruit’s training was when they were assigned to police stations.

“This training only worked under the guidance of experienced non-commissioned officers and officers, which I am concerned is lacking at some police stations.”

Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane, administrator of the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority, said they had been approached by police management over the cut in training.

She declined further comment.

[Source: Times Live]
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